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It’s best case scenario for sports books

By the time you are reading these words one half of the NBA Finals may have been determined as the Boston Celtics were on the verge of sweeping past the Orlando Magic with a win on Monday night.

The Celtics were impressive enough in winning the first two games of the Eastern Conference finals on the road by 4 and 3 points to return home with a 2-0 lead. But Boston’s most impressive effort of the perhaps the entire regular season and post season came in game three as the Celtics routed the Magic 94-71 in what was essentially a must win game for Orlando.

No NBA team has ever overcome an 0-3 deficit to win a series yet that was exactly the situation faced by Orlando heading into Monday night’s game four in Boston. For their part the Celtics have no interest in duplicating the performance of their Garden co-tenants, the Bruins, who did manage to blow a 3-0 series lead to the Philadelphia Flyers, only the third time such a collapse has occurred in the NHL. Ironically, Boston holds the distinction of being involved in the only such 3-0 collapse in major league baseball when the 2004 Red Sox won 4 in a row after dropping the first three to the New York Yankees en route to the Sox’ first World Series title in 86 years.

Should Orlando have pulled the upset Monday night (they were 7½ point underdogs at press time) and return home trailing 3 to 1 in the series the Celtics would be a solid play in game five to wrap up the series and advance to the NBA Finals. Boston would also be the play in game 6 back in Boston should the Magic have regained momentum by winning a second straight game.

One pattern that has emerged in games between the Celtics and Magic that is worth playing concerns the Total. The first three games of this series have all stayed UNDER the Total as did 3 of their 4 regular season meetings. That’s 6 of 7 games staying UNDER the Total including 3 which stayed UNDER by at least 25 points. In their 7 games to date the winning team has yet to top 96 points.

In the Western Conference finals Phoenix won a tightly contested game three Sunday night to pull within a game of tying their series with the Lakers heading into Tuesday night’s Game Four.

Game 3 was a favorable situation for the Suns and they took advantage of the spot although the Lakers made several runs and did not concede the contest. They got a very poor performance from center Andrew Bynum yet still were in the game until the final minute.

Tuesday’s game 4 is pretty much a pick ‘em and the Lakers are playable in Tuesday’s game to take a 3 to 1 lead back home where they would be favored to end the series in game 5 in which they are likely to be favored by the 6 to 7 points by which they were favored in the first two games of the series.

Should Phoenix pull off a second win in the series by winning either game 4 or 5 the Lakers would be a very strong play to wrap up the series in Phoenix in game 6 even if they are a slight favorite.

But the most likely scenario as of Monday morning is for the Lakers to win both games 4 and 5 and advance to the NBA Finals.

All three of the Lakers/Suns games played prior to press time went OVER the Total with 235, 236 and 227 points being scored in the first three contests.

This has resulted in upward adjustments in the Total throughout the series. After posting a 211 Total for the first game of the series the Total was adjusted to 216 for Game 2 and an even higher 220 for Game 3. The Total for Tuesday’s Game 4 opened at 222.

By this time next week the NBA Finals may be set with most likely a rematch of the 2008 Finals between the Celtics and Lakers about to get underway.


About the Author

Andy Iskoe

Owner and author of “The Logical Approach,” Andy Iskoe has been a long time GT columnist, contributing weekly in-season columns on baseball, pro basketball and pro football.

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